PHOTO BY YAN KACZYNSKI
When Charlie Bourque left her home province of Quebec at 19 years old, she was in search of an adventure. Chasing mountains and rivers, she accepted a job in Prince Rupert without knowing anything about northern B.C. and drove until she reached the Pacific Ocean.
Head over heels with all the outdoor adventures she could grasp onto, Bourque grew curious of the landscapes around her. While skiing at Shames Mountain she met Gordon Weary, a professor at the college, who brought up the environmental geoscience courses in his department.
Hearing about the hands-on learning and field school trips, she felt a strong pull to apply.
“I initially took a field school with the school to try it out and I was surprised with how much I enjoyed learning, so I decided I would try the college program,” Bourque says, adding she then enrolled into the associate degree in science program specializing in environmental geoscience.
“When I moved to Terrace, I realized I could transfer college credits to finish my bachelor degree at the University of British Columbia (UNBC) through the College afterwards... It was incredible that I could do all my schooling here while still being so close to the outdoors.”
Bourque says she was surprised with how little time she spent in a traditional classroom setting throughout her degree. Many of her labs were set outside, rain or shine, where the instructors taught their subjects hands-on. She grasped onto complex topics immediately and believes that learning from a textbook wouldn’t have been so effective.
“Terrace has such an amazing history when it comes to how the landforms were created, from the glaciers to the vegetation,” she says.
“Not growing up here, I was blown away by how diverse the rainforest and ocean could be… Seeing it upfront really expanded my knowledge of it all.”
Excited with school, Bourque took advantage of all the CMTN’s field schools she could to fast track her courses while going on multi-day expeditions. She travelled to places like Haida Gwaii and Alaska to learn about the environment while making lifelong friendships.
“On these trips, we were always camping, eating and learning together so we felt comfortable asking any crazy questions we came up with. We had a different relationship with our instructors that we normally wouldn’t experience in the classroom, they were super genuine and personable,” says Bourque.
“You become more interested in what everyone has to say, and you crave a deeper connection to fully understand what you’re learning... I came because I wanted to be closer to the mountains and ocean, but I didn’t expect to stay here for five years because of how amazing the people are out here."